The Natterjack Toad Wildlife Conservation Project

The survival of the natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita)  has become a matter which is now extremely important for  the Tiroler Lech Nature Park. For several years  a wildlife conservation project has been carried out to secure the population of  Austria’s rarest amphibian. The measures taken focus on preserving or reviving the natural and suitable habitat. Natterjack toads need open sandy spots in the floodplain forests, and suitable waters for spawning.

For stabilising the population of the natterjack toads new spawning ponds have been installed. These are based on scientific findings on their population size, the routes they take and their habitats on land.

The riparian forest area around the Tirolean Lech river near Oberpinswang is home to one of the three remaining the populations of the natterjack toad in Austria. As an acutely endangered and strictly protected animal species, they receive  special attention within the project “redynamisation of the river morphology of the floodplains for promoting selected flagship species”.

Near Oberpinswang local embankment reinforcements have caused the Lech’s bed to sink approximately three to four metres. . The annually recurring water depths now no longer reach the floodplain forests in these areas. The riparian forest areas are no longer flooded and are increasingly overgrown with bushes. Where there used to be sparse floodplain forests with sandy spots, there are now dense forests, making survival for  species such as the natterjack toad, impossible.
Two larger  building measures for revitalising the Lechau floodplains were implemented from October 2013 to April 2015 near Oberpinswang. One measure was the erection of a 60m wide and 12 -25m long chute in the riverbed. At the same time the orographic right bank of the river was systematically lowered to re-establish natural dynamics. In the riparian forest itself the forest was cleared on an area of approximately 2.3 hectares and floor structures were opened to create a 660m-long depression, which is flooded in case of higher water levels.

The implementation of this project has created a habitat not only for the natterjack toad. Other flagship species from  dynamic river systems, such as the German tamarisk and the dwarf bulrush,  also now have the chance to survive and to increase their population. The redynamisation of the Oberpinswnager Au creates retention areas and considerably contributes to flood protection.

Read more about our nature conservation project in Oberpinswang in our brochure.

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